My 2010 Genealogy Aspirations Review

December 31st, 2010

On 28 December 2009 I posted my New Year Genie Aspirations for 2010 and on 9 July 2010 I did a mid year review of those resolutions where I found that I was not keeping up with my ambitions for the year. After July my year was even busier so it is interesting to review my aspirations again at year’s end.

  • Maintain my health and fitness program so that I will have the energy and strength to do the next 9 items.

In retrospect I probably needed the energy up front to maintain a health and fitness program so this needs to be carried over to 2011. I find it so easy to be ‘seduced’ by my laptop and hours slip by before I realise – so more motivation and reminders are necessary.  I think regular ‘get up and move away from the laptop’ reminders in my calendar might be a good idea and scheduling exercise sessions like I used to when I worked full time.

  • Start using my new digital recorder and get Mum’s memories of her grandmother before it is too late.

This was a good idea but every time I tried to get Mum to talk about her grandmother, she would get teary with the memories and then tell me  I was upsetting her. So I need another plan for this goal. In 2011 I also want to gather some of my partner’s stories of his parents and I do use the recorder to rehearse genealogy talks so that I keep within  time and the talks make sense, although it is odd listening to one’s own voice. It never sounds like me!

  • Scan my old photos, identify them and share with the family.

Yes I have done some throughout the year but nowhere near what I thought I would get done. This needs to be more managed – I suspect with scheduled sessions in the calendar on a regular basis. Nothing like performance measures to get you motivated – perhaps I am missing full time work??

  • Conserve and preserve family heirlooms discovered during my recent stay at Mum’s including both my parents’ 21st birthday keys and cards, Dad’s first love letter to Mum (both aged 12 at the time), her wedding dress, my first pair of shoes, photos and other documents.

Apart from finding these precious items and rescuing them from the back of Mum’s cupboards, this has not progressed at all. Another case of scheduling the work and then doing it!!

  • Work with my other Johnston family members to finally sort out the Johnston Clan from Knockbride, County Cavan.

We started with good intentions but then we all got so busy with normal family life that this hasn’t progressed much at. It is hard trying to work with others and finding a time when everyone is available to do something. We will maintain an informal network and keep each other up to date of any exciting finds.

  • Finalise my draft of the Price family history in time for my mother’s 76th birthday.

More progress made but didn’t make her April birthday deadline so now aiming for her 77th in 2011.

  • Start a website for my family history research.

Apart from looking at other family history websites and finding out about suitable software, this hasn’t progressed. Instead I put a My Families page on this website as an interim measure. I think this will probably have to wait until I have some more spare time, although that never really seems to happen. Might be a case of ‘just do it’!

  • Continue to inspire and assist others with their family history research.

At last one resolution that I can honestly say I have achieved. Throughout the year I gave dozens of genealogy talks at various venues/events throughout Australia and New Zealand and I know from feedback that attendees have followed up on whatever the talks were about. I have also written various articles and guides which are also popular and again feedback informs me that researchers are learning and benefiting from what I write.

I have also continued both of these but perhaps not as regularly as I originally thought. A weekly blog was something that I thought I could easily manage but some weeks seem to slip by and I swear I don’t know where the time has gone. A small confession – some of that time goes on Twitter @HicksShauna but I have learnt so much over the year from links shared by Twitter friends that I don’t regret it. During the Unlock the Past history and genealogy roadshow in November I somehow managed a daily blog of each roadshow which was read by over 1000 individual people which still amazes me. It gave me a much greater appreciation of Dick Eastman’s daily newsletter!

  • Stay focussed, organised and enthused  and open to all new possibilities in my family research travels!

Well I am definitely still as enthusiastic about family history as I have ever been, perhaps even more with some of the interesting records now coming on line. It is much easier to search and find people in records like BDMs, census, post office directories, electoral rolls and so on. I really should be more focussed and just do one or two families at a time but I get excited when new records are released and often go off on tangents. I try to stay organised but sometimes the reading pile gets too high along with the filing pile and the to do lists are way too long but it is still great fun.

As well as the above, I did lots of unplanned things that just came up over the year and I think when we do new year aspirations we should allow for spontaneous and unexpected events changing our priorities. Now that I have reviewed my year, it is time to think about what I hope to achieve in 2011 with regard to my family history. Stay tuned.


Mid Year Review of Genealogy Resolutions

July 9th, 2010

On 28 December 2009 I wrote my Genealogy Resolutions for 2010. Now that we are into July I thought it was time for a review to see how I am going.

- Maintain my health and fitness program so that I will have the energy and strength to do the next 9 items.
Not too bad but still not as regular as I would like. Tends to be driven by what else is happening and gets neglected in busy times. Could do better.

- Start using my new digital recorder and get Mum’s memories of her grandmother before it is too late.

Started out great but haven’t done any taping for months. Need to put more of a priority on this.

- Scan my old photos, identify them and share with the family.

Have done some scanning and identifying photos but there are still cupboards full to go. Need to set aside dedicated time each week and stick to it!

- Conserve and preserve family heirlooms discovered during my recent stay at Mum’s including both my parents’ 21st birthday keys and cards, Dad’s first love letter to Mum (both aged 12 at the time), her wedding dress, my first pair of shoes, photos and other documents.

I’ve brought everything back from Brisbane and it is now in a big box in the back bedroom. Need to buy what I want and then do it – sounds so simple.

- Work with my other Johnston family members to finally sort out the Johnston Clan from Knockbride, County Cavan.

Had one meeting with a cousin in Brisbane and been in email contact with others but everyone is so busy with daily lives that this keeps dropping in priority. Still there are enough of us now all doing something we should make some progress by year’s end.

- Finalise my draft of the Price family history in time for my mother’s 76th birthday.

Well the deadline was in April and I have definitely missed this one – perhaps I should try for a Christmas present. Definitely need an action plan with key dates along the way – salami tactics!

- Start a website for my family history research.

I have decided to start with a page dedicated to my family names and I am linking my blogs on the different families to the page. Could do a lot more but finding time to write family stories is like everything else. Need to try harder!

- Continue to inspire and assist others with their family history research.

At least I can say I am doing well in this resolution. I have done numerous talks to genealogy and family history groups in the first six months of this year and my participation with Unlock the Past is growing with a staggering number of talks coming up at a range of events. I am still getting good feedback from my talks and I have been able to help others with their research.

- Continue writing my blogs – SHHE Genie Rambles and Brick Wall Solutions on Unlock the Past.

I have written quite a few SHHE blogs but have found it hard to keep to a weekly timetable – some weeks are just so busy especially if I am travelling. Similarly I have done a few Brick Wall blogs including one today updating my demolition of the brick wall surrounding my gg grandmother Helen Carnegie.

- Stay focussed, organised and enthused and open to all new possibilities in my family research travels!

I am still enthused and open to all new family history research options but sometimes there is so much opportunity and so many new things to look at that I lose focus and flit from family to family. If I am honest, and look around my study, I also have to admit that I may not be as organised as I should be and again this is because I am discovering so many new things about different families it is hard to keep up. I need to set aside a regular time for filing and other basic tasks.

So all up I am still working towards my 2010 Genealogy Resolutions but I need to plan my family history time better to make the most of what time I do have. One suggestion I plan to adopt is introducing some monthly goals so that I achieve some scanning, writing, filing etc each month. Wish me luck!

New Year Genie Aspirations – In 2010 I Will

December 28th, 2009

  • Maintain my health and fitness program so that I will have the energy and strength to do the next 9 items.

It is too easy to get mesmerised by the computer or the fascination of the library, book or whatever. Without regular breaks my back starts to ache, my joints stiffen up and my brain overloads and I start to dither. If I don’t make the effort to leave the house or telephone someone, I find myself telling the budgie my success stories. To keep focussed everyone needs to be aware of regular exercise, nutritious food, lots of water and time out. Socialising (with real people – email doesn’t count) is also part of family history so attending genealogical or family history meetings and learning what’s new and sharing information is just as important. It’s not all online.

  • Start using my new digital recorder and get Mum’s memories of her grandmother before it is too late.

Spending time with my mother during her recent illness has made me all too aware of what she knows, but won’t necessarily tell me unless I ask the right questions. The digital recorder is small and unobtrusive, and by showing Mum some old photos I can get her to start telling me her memories and childhood stories. With luck, and the right positioning of the recorder, she forgets it is there after a while and talks on freely about people I will only ever know through her memories.

  • Scan my old photos, identify them and share with the family.

I have been collecting family photos for over 30 years and while I have made some attempts to identify, arrange and make more accessible some photos to other family members, I am very aware that there is a lot more I can do here. There is so much that is in my head that no one else will ever be able to work out, unless I seriously start to make this huge amount of material more organised with better descriptions, scanned images and proper storage conditions.

  • Conserve and preserve family heirlooms discovered during my recent stay at Mum’s including both my parents’ 21st birthday keys and cards, Dad’s first love letter to Mum (both aged 12 at the time), her wedding dress, my first pair of shoes, photos and other documents.

As well as the photographs, I have various bits and pieces of memorabilia which  have not been stored in ideal conditions and are now old and fragile. By purchasing some acid free archival storage boxes and paper I can make these valuable items more safe and secure for future generations. All it takes is a bit of time, money and effort. It’s a pity that there aren’t more rainy weekends in Melbourne these days, but on those cold weekends and boring nights of television, I am sure that I will find the time to tackle this goal, as long as I stop procrastinating!

  • Work with my other Johnston family members to finally sort out the Johnston Clan from Knockbride, County Cavan.

The Johnston clan is huge with lots of siblings in each generation and almost every line has one or more people researching it but it is also confused with missing or unknown information. A few of us have started to get together to pool all our information and systematically work our way through the known and the unknown.  2010 will be the year we sort out all the Knockbride Johnstons!

  • Finalise my draft of the Price family history in time for my mother’s 76th birthday.

I first started this draft for the 100th anniversary of the family’s arrival in 1878 but in 1978 I had only been researching for two years and had not done a lot of overseas research. Every few years I have updated it with new information but never finished it. There was always something else to do or find out. In 2008 I was definitely going to finish it for the 130th anniversary but personal illness got in the way and for my mother’s 75th in 2009, my partner’s illness sidetracked me. It is so easy for other things to come along and take higher priority (as they must sometimes) but there comes a time when everyone must simply say enough and finish. Publish and/or distribute copies – I can always say another edition is in the pipeline. At least there is a finished product, not a collection of certificates, photos, bits and pieces of information etc which is meaningless without the context that only I can give it.

  • Start a website for my family history research.

Having seen so many interesting and surprisingly simple family history websites, it really is time that I start to put my own family history online. It is such an easy way to share information and photographs with people and invite them to share their stories as well. Just doing my own blogs has been an interesting experience with people contacting me with ideas, suggestions and on one occasion, even related to me.

  • Continue to inspire and assist others with their family history research.

Most of my working life in government (35 years) was spent assisting people with genealogical and family history research and I hope to continue doing that in my new venture Unlock the Past with Gould Genealogy & History. I have always been conscious of the tyranny of distance in Australia and that not everyone has easy access to major archives, libraries and societies. Regional areas also need access to good resources and speakers and hopefully Unlock the Past  will help us achieve that.

Keeping up with blogs is a bit like writing a diary – if you set a specific time to do it, you will probably do it. If you leave it random, it will probably be forgotten or haphazard. So for things that I really want to do I am now going to set specific times in my calendar and treat it as something that I must do. Plus as I really enjoy reading the comments that people post on my blogs, I am going to make the effort to make comments myself to let other people know that I appreciate the opportunity of being able to read their blogs and learn from their experiences.

  • Stay focussed, organised and enthused  and open to all new possibilities in my family research travels!

Rereading the above aspirations I wonder if I have been too ambitious but without goals and specific targets we have nothing to aim for. Having this blog printed and in a visible place in my study will keep me focussed, not so sure about organised (depends on what else is happening) and enthused ( being enthusiastic about family history is never a problem). I am always excited about new developments and 2010 is going to have all sorts of new and exciting resources, technology and breakthroughs in my research. I can’t wait!


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